Longing for a genuine democratic change in Myanmar

Longing for a genuine democratic change in Myanmar

Adapted and Burmanized from Ms Irene Fernandez’s letter in Malaysiakini


A few months ago, a number of seamen from trawler boats jumped ship in Tanjung Manis, Sarawak. These Cambodian fishermen were brought to work in Thailand as construction workers but sold to Thai fishing trawler owners.

Fitting to the mould of the ‘Ali Baba’ style of getting licenses and selling them, we have a situation of a Cambodian sold to a Thai trawler who had a Malaysian fishing license. All the ingredients for trafficking in persons.

We know that the fishermen in trawlers have no protection and if they fall sick, there is no medical treatment. When they are very sick or do not work as demanded, they are beaten up and then, when they become weak, thrown into the sea to die. Was it wrong for the fishermen to jump ship at Tanjung Manis?

Was there fair and free referendum in Myanmar? Definitely not.

Do we hope that there would be a fair and free elections? No one believe the SPDC.

There is no free media. There was unnecessary fear instilled in the Pyi-Thu LUDU. And if we put all this together, it was unfair. Does it constitute genuine democracy? No!

The recent developments in the country unveil the truth of intense corruption, of grabbing the people’s wealth, of significant oil price increases which were unnecessary, all which have brought much hardship to the people especially the poor.

You cannot imagine what this weak SPDC military governance and indecisiveness together with the plundering of wealth is leading us into. It is becoming a crisis situation.

I was in Myanmar. It created anger and pain to listen to how the daughters of Myanmars are being sold and forced into prostitution in Yangon, Mandalay, Thailand, Singapore and then sent elsewhere. The daughters of Myanmar believed they were taken to get good decent jobs.


Similarly, in Ethnic Minority areas, the control and power over the people is so strong that each day indigenous peoples’ lands are stolen from them. Those who resist are arrested and abused by the state machinery. The daughters of Ethnic Minorities face the same dilemma of being pushed out of their own ancestral land.

As they get pushed out, they become vulnerable. The road to trafficking and forced prostitution or slavery has been constructed by the current SPDC regime.

Do we widen this road under the facade of democracy? Or do we turn on the machinery to destroy this road, to open up a new one which brings justice, freedom and decent livelihoods to our daughters and sons? Whatever door we call it, it must open to a genuine democracy and justice for the people.

This democracy, I understand, must protect the freedoms and rights of the people. The democracy I want is where the pillars that uphold it must be free and independent from executive control.

If the executive and legislature are useless in protecting the rights of the people, in respecting the freedoms of the people, in guaranteeing livelihoods, decent jobs and wages with equitable justice, then why sustain such a system?It is good to jump ship so that genuine democracy will become a reality.

Fifty years of military rule is enough. Just like how fishermen jump ship to save their lives, it is timely for good generals, good military personals others to jump ship to save democracy, to save our daughters and sons, to save the nation.

It is a change for all. Let’s stop being myopic.

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